Devil in an Aerostar, or, The Omen (not a review)
Just because I don’t write reviews anymore. Just because they seem to use the same part of my brain I use to write. Anyway, The Omen: a remake in a year of remakes, yeah. Not quite as ‘reinterpretive’ as When a Stranger Calls and not quite as ‘faithful’ as Psycho, but, too, I’m not yet confident it’s the ‘improvement’ The Hills Have Eyes might have been (not that Craven messed up or was hamstrung by budget or any of that, just that it was a nice surprise, finding that I cared for that little monster girl at the end). Too, though, I do appreciate how much Father Spileto was a dead ringer for He Who Must Not Be Named, But Can Be Played Pretty Effectively by Ralph Fiennes. And the visuals and effects and acting were all good, I guess (I’m always so pulled in by story that, unless any of that’s bad enough to push me out of the experience, I don’t notice it–as it should be, I think, yes. Isn’t this how the score’s supposed to function as well?).
Still, though, the first one, man, it didn’t just scare it, it disturbed me. Like stopped me from breathing kind of scary. Why then wouldn’t this one too?
Well, it’s complicated. Bear with me now (this is what I always say at the drive-through window too). The reason this Omen doesn’t disturb like the last one doesn’t really have anything to do with how it was made or rewritten or any of that. It has everything to do, instead, with the fact that it’s set in an alternate reality. Which one? The one where, in 2006, people can still, in good conscience, name their child ‘Damien,’ and not expect fire & brimstone & priests scurrying around, full of portent. I mean, in 1976, sure, ‘Damien’ was a little bit charged ‘evil,’ but, man, nothing like it would be after Omen had its way with it. The same way after Silence of the Lambs, the panel van went out, thanks to Jame Gumb, and the minivan rose to power, so did the name ‘Damien’ fall out of favor. So, for us to somehow accept what this Omen‘s trying to sell us, we have to first postulate a thirty years prior to that 2006, in which ‘Damien’ wasn’t charged. That is, a world in which the 1976 Omen never happened. A world where the graduating classes of the 1990s had a lot more antichrists than they really did. So, yeah, this Omen remake is caught in a tight little circle of bad logic: either use a different name than ‘Damien,’ or not be a remake–exist instead in a world which had no 1976 Omen. And, as for the first option, of course The Omen‘s not The Omen without a kid named Damien. As for the second, I don’t know: production budgets are high, yeah–but that high?
Too, the faithful among you will of course intuit that The Omen‘s dillemma here is similar to the tightwire The X-Files always had to walk: if Fox ever actually did get some disc of irrefutable proof of alien stuff into the right hands, and suddenly it was accepted, then at that moment the show would be divorced from the world we live in–the world which has no such proof–and The X-Files would spin off into their own little alternate dimension, all insulated with fantasy. Or, to look at it another way, maybe the inverse of this is what let the very unlikely Buck Rogers actually work.
Anyway, talking minivans, I wonder if clear-plastic shower curtains kind of caught on after Psycho? I would guess The Hitcher‘s left a lot of lonely non-killers walking in the rain on the side of the road, anyway, and, as for being buried in Haiti: forget it. Serpent and the Rainbow was all the cautionary tale I needed. And, I mean, it’s just totally unfair, America’s media-influenced prejudice against those of us who, on occasion, choose to wear hockey masks in public, just because it makes you feel like Clint for some reason, looking out those eyeholes (okay, the ‘Clint’-association is almost surely the mouthlessness of those masks matching up with how little all his cowboy/strangers ever said–or, had to say).
Anyway, to sum up: If you’ve just drifted into town, and are killing time, brooding around, trying to kick your cigarillo habit, squinting into the heat maybe, like you’d fight the sun if you could just reach it, and a minivan pulls up beside you with the antichrist behind the wheel, and he’s wearing a hockey mask, then lean over to spit a line onto the hot asphalt, and, like you don’t really even care about the answer even, ask him if his name’s ‘Damien.’ If not, then shrug one shoulder, tell yourself what the hell, and get in, just on the chance he’s going home, to whatever his native reality might be, where the shower curtains are thick and admit no light, no shadows.
[ this sestina provided by amateurs, for non-spousal consumption ]